I'm trying to set a particular USB drive to always mount read only. If I plug it in, it is seen as sdb with a single partition, sdb1. Here are some relevant udevadm lines (not the entire output of course):

$ udevadm info -a -n /dev/sdb1
  looking at device '/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1d.0/usb2/2-1/2-1.4/2-1.4:1.0/host21/target21:0:0/21:0:0:0/block/sdb/sdb1':
    ATTR{stat}=="     473    30586    33938     3460        5        0       40     1624        0     2268     5084"

OK, so I wrote the following udev rule and saved it as /etc/udev/rules.d/10-usbdisk.rules:


According to this, using size should be enough but I have also tried other permutations. In any case, the rule does seem to be read (again, selected output lines, you can see the entire output here:

$ udevadm test $(udevadm info -q path -n /dev/sdb1) 2>&1
read rules file: /etc/udev/rules.d/10-usbdisk.rules
MODE 0555 /etc/udev/rules.d/10-usbdisk.rules:4

So, it looks like the rule should be applied and it looks like the MODE="0555" is the correct syntax. However, when I actually plug the disk in, I can happily create/delete files on it.

OS: Debian testing (LMDE)

So, what am I doing wrong? How can I mount a particular USB drive as read only automatically using udev1?

1 I know how to do this with fstab but fstab settings are ignored by gvfs. My objective is to have this mounted automatically as read only in the GUI. Presumably this will have to be done via udev or gvfs somehow.


3 Answers 3


Ok, the summary is that Nautilus uses GVFS and you need to tell udev to use GVFS too when reading the fstab entries, you can do this using:

/dev/block-device /mount/point auto x-gvfs-show,ro 0 0

x-gvfs-show will tell udev and anyone interested to use the GVFS helper to mount the filesystem, so gvfs has all the control mounting, umounting, moving mount points, etc.

Lets see if we understand how are drives mounted in modern Linux systems with GUI's (specifically Nautilus):

Nautilus uses GVFS as backend to mount FTP, SMB, block devices, among other things into the file system. The tool that GNOME designed for such proposes is called called Disks is the one that modify the behavior of GVFS. Now here comes the fun.

Nautilus ignores anything that it wasn't mounted using GVFS (like using fstab) and gives you a very rudimentary control over this using udev (Nautilus doesn't ask GVFS to unmount or mount devices that were not manipulated using GVFS, that includes udev, fstab, mount and any other blob) such as just unmount and mount. Using the permissions and options stored in fstab/udev you can use these filesystems accordingly but you can't modify the behavior using GVFS. If something was mounted using sudo mount -o rw /dev/sda3, nautilus tells udev that it doesn't have permissions to modify the mount point, so it pass the responsibility to udev which in turn ask polkit for permissions. If you had used GVFS, nautilus itself unmount the device without permissions, nor dialogs, etc.

  • I know this is an old thread, but something bugs me still on that very same topic. Do you mean that in order for the udev rule to heed MODE="0555", one needs to write a /etc/ fstab entry that includes the x-gvfs-show option ? The model fstab entry you provide is for auto mount at boot time, but @terdon mentions that he wants his USB volume to mount as read-only when he plugs it in....(my own use case is MODE="0750"). Obviously I am missing something.
    – Cbhihe
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 15:00
  • 1
    @Cbhihe no, the option is there to allow gvfs to manage the mount point, ie. the user to unmount a fs don't need root's account.
    – Braiam
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 15:08
  • To put it differently option x-gvfs-show in the /etc/fstab entry tell udev & Co to rely on GVFS to mount a given FS. Incidentally it helps visualize the mounted volume under "Devices" in Nautilus (it just pops up when mounted) and allows a user to unmount the FS via gui. Does that mean that any mount option should also appear in the /etc/fstab entry, e.g. noexec,umask=0027,... ? I ask because MODE="0750" has zero effect in the udev rule. (I can ask another question if you think it's better).
    – Cbhihe
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 16:41

You can make a block device read-only with

blockdev --setro /dev/sdb1

You can make udev execute this command (IIRC RUN=).

  • 1
    The problem is that it takes effect after remounting. Commented Jun 21, 2020 at 20:42

I think problem is SUBSYSTEM, you should change it to usb instead of block. I add this line to my rule and it works for me:

  • Thanks but no, that was also ignored by nautilus.
    – terdon
    Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 19:00
  • What errors when you change SUBSYTEM to usb? What OS do you use??
    – cuonglm
    Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 19:11
  • No errors, just a drive mounted as rw. Using Debian. Also, I'd like to make this specific to a particular drive so I would need something more specific than that rule.
    – terdon
    Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 19:13
  • Ah, never mind, Braiam nailed it.
    – terdon
    Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 19:15

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .